Legal Definition and Related Resources of Detinue

Meaning of Detinue

At common law , it was an action in tort based upon the wrongful detention of goods by a defendant , and where the plaintiff seeks to recover goods in specie . Where the plaintiff proves that he has either absolute or special property in personal goods which are capable of being ascertained, that the defendant was in possession of the same and had without lawful excuse refused to deliver the same to the plaintiff, the court shall , at the request of the plaintiff, direct a writ of execution to issue commanding the defendant to deliver up the property demanded. In such an action, the plaintiff, at common law, could , as an alternative remedy , claim the value of the particular goods or chattels . See Lindsey v Perry, 1 Ala. 203.

Detinue Alternative Definition

(Lat. ditinffere, de, and tenere, to hold from; to withhold.) In practice. A form of action which lies for the recovery, in specie, of personal chattels from one who acquired possession of them lawfully, but retains it without right, together with damages for the detention. 3 Bl. Comm. 151. It is generally laid down as necessary to the maintenance of this action that the original taking should have been lawful, thus distinguishing it from replevin, which lies in case the original taking is unlawful. Brooke, Abr. “Detinue,” 21, 36, 63. It is said, however, by Chitty, that it lies in cases of tortious taking, except as a distress, and that it is thus distinguished from replevin, which lay originally only where a distress was made, as was claimed, wrongfully. 1 Chit. PL 112, 113. See 8 Sharswood, Bl. Comm. 162, and notes. In England this action has yielded to the more practical and less technical action trover, but was much used in the slaveholding states of the United States for the recovery of slaves. 4 Munf. (Va.) 72; 4 Ala. 221; 3 Bibb (Ky.) 510; 16 Overt. (Tenn.) 187; 10 Ired. (N. 0.) 124.

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Detinue in Historical Law

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This definition of Detinue is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Detinue in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

An action for depriving one of the possession of personality acquired originally by lawful means. The judgment is that the plaintiff recover the goods, or, if they cannot be had, then their respective values, and the damages rewarded for the detention. 3 Bl. Com. 151-52; Story, Eq. §§ 692-711, 906.

Note: This legal definition of Detinue in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.

English Legal System: Detinue

In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Detinue :

An action to recover good
s, based on a wrongful refusal by the possessor of the goods to restore them to the owner. The old common law form of action was abolished by the Judicature Acts 1873-75 and detinue was abolished altogether by the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. Recovery of goods is now governed by the provisions of the 1977 Act.

Detinue is similar to replevin in that it seeks a recovery of a specific item of property.

Detinue is similar to replevin in that it seeks a recovery of a specific item of property.

Concept of “Detinue”

Traditional meaning of detinue in English (with some legal use of this latin concept in England and the United States in the XIX Century) [1]: (in Latin) An old real action for the specific recovery of a personal chattel unlawfully detained; see 3rd Book (“Of Private Wrongs”), Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England 151; Robinson’s Elementary LawRev.ed.; § 263


Notes and References

  1. Based on A Concise Law Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Maxims, “Detinue”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary. This term and/or definition may be absolete.

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